Teaching Examples


2006 SNDies finalists
August 31, 2006, 3:55 pm
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The annual SNDies competition honors the best “new media” design in journalism. The self-nominated entries favor interactive or multimedia packages (and slideshows). The competition is part of the Society for News Design, an international professional organization. (I’m going to their annual convention in Orlando this weekend.)

See my del.icio.us links to all of the SNDies nominees.

Update (Sept. 5): The Gold, Silver, Bronze and Award of Excellence (an honorable mention) awards have been announced. I added these to my links at del.icio.us. Only two sites were awarded Gold.

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Online news design, Part 2
August 31, 2006, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m eager to get more nominations for good news fronts on the Web. These screenshots are full size from 1024 x 768 resolution in Firefox 1.5, no scrolling. Juan Antonio Giner nominated the top two. I nominate the following two. Click an image to see the site.

And nominate your own picks for best-designed news front on the Web! Leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail at mindy (you know what goes in between) macloo.com.

New York Observer

Austin American-Statesman

Clarin

New York Times

I’m always interested to see what keywords are used in the site navigation. Many sites have moved to horizontal top navigation, but we still see some sites with left-side navigation, such as The New York Times (which also uses tabs at the top).

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Online news design
August 30, 2006, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Juan Antonio Giner doesn’t hold back. He looked at the design of The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman home page and wrote:

“The design of the web page is one of the best in the world.”

He’s right. It’s 100 times better than the average, than the majority of newspaper Web sites I have seen (and I have seen many, many, many).

One thing Giner didn’t say, though — check out the Entertainment tab at the top of the page. Wow! Brilliant! News. Entertainment. Side by side, but not competing. Harmonious. Complementary.

Brilliant!

Maybe some of the online journalism bloggers could play tag team with this idea. I will make the next move: Clarín, from Buenos Aires.

Clarín has a very easy-to-use three-column design: Lastest updates on the left, including video. Features and multimedia in the center. Ads on the right. Everything in the breaking news column includes a clear summary, perfect for staying informed throughout the workday.

Update: Who has the best news front on the Web? Send your nominations!

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Travels with Jane, a participatory adventure
August 30, 2006, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The travel editor at the Miami Herald goes on a low-budget road trip, blogs it all, and has her next move determined by … readers’ votes! (That’s got to count as interactive!)

Jane Wooldridge started out on Aug. 20, getting as far as Florida Caverns State Park, in the panhandle of our state (many people don’t realize it, but you must drive a full day to get out of Florida if you start in Miami). Today she posted from Kansas City, Missouri.

It’s a cute idea, and she’s getting some comments, although not a lot. There’s no Site Meter link on her blog, so there’s no telling how many people are following her daily. You can still vote on her next route change (should she head west or north?) — we’ll find out which choice won when she makes her next post to the blog.

Don’t miss the Flash map of Jane’s journey, conveniently linked on the upper right corner of her blog. Her plan is to end up in Seattle, with more interesting detours along the way.

Update (Sept. 4): Jane went into South Dakota and drove across the Badlands. Cool. I’ve always wanted to go there.

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Too much information, lacking order
August 29, 2006, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Many news organizations have recently published anniversary packages related to the hurricanes of last year, Katrina and Rita. I’ve been looking at them as they are posted on the various journalism blogs.

NY Times 2006 Katrina package
The good news is, we can see how much remains to be done. No one should think that the mess has been cleaned up. It has not. The government and the insurance companies should be held accountable. Lots of property and — more important — people are still in bad shape. Documenting this evidence is an admirable function of journalism.

The bad news is, many of these one-year-later packages prove difficult to comprehend. The story is so large, it seems the journalists struggled to create a usable system for organizing the information.

One of the better packages I have seen (and I have not looked at all of them) comes from The New York Times: For New Orleans, a Slow and Uneven Return. I had some trouble using it, but after about 20 minutes I did feel that I was getting a clearer idea of how New Orleans is faring today.

NY Times 2006 Katrina package
I liked the focus on specific locations and businesses (three tabbed sections segment the story into Businesses, Landmarks, Homes). I loved the video interviews with small business owners who are trying to recover and start over.

I really like the satellite maps of New Orleans as the location interface. However, this is also where I had some trouble navigating and controlling how I moved within the package. It’s a tradeoff between the map automatically moving to a new location and allowing me to move it at will. This map does allow both. But even so, sometimes I got lost and felt confused.

In addition to the plus and minus zoom controls, I think this map needs one of those locator frames that shows you where you are in the context of a larger map.

NY Times 2006 Katrina package
Although I liked the rollover effect that showed me “areas of significant flooding” with a blue transparent overlay, I didn’t like it flipping on and off every time I rolled over any part of the map. Eventually I figured out how to disable this feature, but it’s only possible when the map is zoomed all the way out.

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Web video streaming: Which is the best?
August 28, 2006, 2:03 pm
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A new study examines five Web video streaming technologies: Flash, QuickTime, Real, VX30 and Windows Media. Researchers evaluated “image quality, streaming quality, accessibility, encoding and Web-authoring efficiency, and cost.”

Perhaps more interesting to educators and online journalists — the report includes tutorials for using each of the five technologies.

Edgar Huang and Clifford Marsiglio, researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, conducted the study in May and June 2006 and self-published the results in August 2006. The findings rank the barely known VX30 first, Flash second, and WMP, Real and Quicktime third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Good news for Flash (see VX30/Zentu 4 Flash), bad news for Quicktime! And 36 percent of the computers in the study were Macs.

Our study shows that VX30 has the best overall performance while Flash outperforms other streaming technologies in terms user accessibility, perceived image quality, initial buffering delay and rebuffering. [more]

Update: It’s important to understand that VX30 is a codec, and Flash video (for example) can be encoded with more than one codec, e.g. On2 or Sorenson.

Update 2: VX30/Zentu may be controversial.

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Hurricane tracking maps
August 28, 2006, 1:39 pm
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Hurricane season — the minds of southeastern Americans turn to maps as stores sell out of bottled water and plywood.

The IBISeye map — from the Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune — uses Google maps to provide lots of information.

The Weather Underground has a Flash map showing Ernesto today. I like the way rolling over the map markers gives me data on the graph of “Wind and Pressure vs. Time Elapsed.” And rolling over the graph from left to right shows me the storm’s progress step by step. Nice.

Isn’t it remarkable that neither one of these maps has a large advertisement at the top of the page? I would think an ad salesperson could manage to sell an ad for a hurricane map in hurricane season … sounds like the beginning of a joke about how bad the ad sales staff might be …

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